Drug Abuse in the United States: a Public Health Issue or a Criminal Justice Issue?

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Everyday Americans are arrested for illegal drug abuse, making it difficult for them to receive employment and maintain a financially stable lifestyle. If all illegal drugs were decriminalized entirely, drug abuse would drop dramatically. Drug abuse in the United States is seen as a criminal justice issue and, millions of individuals are incarcerated each year. Instead of criminalizing the use of drugs, abuse should solely be seen as a health concern. Drug abusers and addicts direly deserve support and treatment, in lieu of imprisoning them and convicting them of a felony that will trail them for the rest of their lives. The “war on drugs” is not a new topic in today’s society, although it is an exceedingly controversial one. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, in the 1800’s and early 1900’s, drug laws have a lot to do with who is associated with these drugs. Many of the anti-drug laws were directed toward numerous races, including the Chinese, African Americans, and Mexicans. Drugs became symbols of youthful rebellion, social mayhem, and political rebellion in the 1960’s. Because of this, the government made an effort to investigate the safety and health factors of drug use. The “war on drugs” originated from President Nixon, who amplified the size and presence of federal drug control agencies. In 1981, Ronald Reagan’s first lady, Nancy Reagan, stated an anti-drug campaign, containing the slogan “just say no”. This slogan helped put the pressing issue of drug abuse in full view, with zero tolerance policies for these illegal substances. Drug use has been a constant battle many presidents and their first ladies have tried to deal with; nonetheless, the problem still remains. The Drug Policy Alliance sheds light that even po... ... middle of paper ... ...2013/08/13/wonkbook-11-facts-about-americas-prison-population/>. Hughes, Caitlin Elizabeth, and Alex Stevens. "What Can We Learn From The Portuguese Decriminalization of Illicit Drugs?." Oxford University Press 50.6 p999-1022. 24p. 6 Charts, 7 Graphs. Ohio Link. Web. 26 Mar 2014. "If the UK followed Portugal." Community Care, issue 1839 (2010): p30-30. 1p. 1 Color Photograph. Ohio Link. Web. 26 Mar 2014. "A Brief History of the Drug War ." Drug Policy Alliance. Drug Policy Alliance. Web. 2 Apr 2014. . "Is drug addiction treatment worth its cost?." National Institute on Drug Abuse. US Government, n.d. Web. 2 Apr 2014. .

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